Hoodoo remains as provincial finalists again fail to turn things around

What we learned this weekend

From the frying pan into the fire

It’s been another bad year for beaten provincial finalists who, despite all having at least 13 days to recover for their final round qualifier, found it hugely difficult to turn things around.

Defeats for Ulster finalists Down and Leinster finalists Kildare on Saturday, as well as Cork the previous weekend, have once again indicated that the best way to secure an All-Ireland quarter-final place is through the qualifiers.

The stats show that, of the 68 final round qualifiers that have now been played since 2001, a whopping 43 beaten provincial finalists have followed up with a loss in their next game.

Just 25 provincial losers have been able to conjure a win the next day out.

That’s a 63 per cent lose rate.

Those figures are skewed slightly by the fact that teams given less than a week to recover seem to have very little chance at all.

Of the 20 teams thrown back into action in those circumstances, just three have won.

Those short turnarounds were eliminated by the A and B aspect of the current qualifier system though this year’s results prove that it’s still hugely difficult to shake off the disappointment of a provincial final loss and get back to winning ways.

The monkey on Kildare’s back

Kildare must be getting sick of the sight of Croke Park, a ground which continues to give them absolutely nothing.

Saturday’s defeat was the 17th time in 22 league and Championship games at GAA headquarters that they have lost.

That statistic stretches all the way back to the All-Ireland quarter-final of 2011 when, under McGeeney’s guidance, they lost to Donegal in the quarter-final tie.

Since then they have only managed to beat Offaly, Louth and Wexford in the Championship at the venue.

They have lost three times there this year alone and won just once in their last 10 visits.

Maybe next year’s league will offer the Lilywhites an opportunity or two to savour a win at the Jones Road venue though Kildare manager Cian O’Neill argued the toss on Saturday.

He said it’s flawed logic to attribute all of their defeats to some sort of psychological barrier though the more they continue to lose there the more it will be raised as an issue.

Galway, ironically, picked up their first win at Croke Park since 2001 earlier this year when they beat Kildare in the Division 2 league final yet lost again yesterday so are still chasing their own Championship breakthrough there.

What ifs, buts and maybes

Would Roscommon be preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final this morning if they had all of their best players available?

It’s an intriguing thought considering the great debate that raged throughout spring over the absence of players like Cathal Cregg and Neil Collins.

A number of others were unavailable for various reasons too and with the team on their way to relegation from Division 1, former boss Gay Sheerin launched his by now infamous attack on Kevin McStay.

Sheerin questioned if those players would have stuck around had a Roscommon man been in charge.

Maybe they would have though it could also be argued that Roscommon wouldn’t have even got to this lofty stage of the Championship as Connacht winners with them.

It’s a fascinating pub debate though it’s hard to argue that the industry and quality of Cregg in particular wouldn’t have come in handy at times yesterday.

A penny for those players thoughts now.

Some suggested before the game that if Roscommon won it would be the county’s greatest win in the Championship since the 1980 All-Ireland semi-final.

They could still pull it off and to miss out on it would surely be a bitter pill to swallow.

Consistent Kerry

Death, taxes and All-Ireland quarter-final wins for Kerry; you might as well try to push back the tide as attempt to stop any of those three things from occurring.

Kerry’s quarter-final record isn’t entirely blemish free - Down and Donegal pulled off big wins in 2010 and 2012 - yet 15 wins from 18 games played at this stage is some return.

Kerry’s solitary quarter-final draw came in 2001 when the last eight stage was introduced for the first time.

Those wins for Down and Donegal lent some credibility to the theory that Kerry can, on occasion, emerge from Munster largely untested and be ripe for the plucking.

Yet this is the fifth year in a row now that they have won with plenty to spare and marched on confidently to the last four of the Championship where the real business of their All-Ireland challenge will begin.

Even Eamonn Fitzmaurice struggled to come up with an answer when asked afterwards if he actually learned anything from this outing.

“Eh,” Fitzmaurice began, before pausing for a moment and opting to fudge his reply, “look, any day you win an All-Ireland quarter-final by eight points and are heading into a semi-final you have to be happy.”


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